An overall winner has been announced for the call for projects from the John W. Mouton Pro Retina and Marie-Claire Liénaert Funds, which are managed by the King Baudouin Foundation: Prof. Elfride De Baere will receive research funding for her work into diseases of the retina and optic nerve.
Elfride De Baere is head of the laboratory and clinical director of the Centrum voor Medische Genetica (CMGG - Center for Medical Genetics) of Universitair Ziekenhuis Gent (UZGent). She specialises in molecular diagnostics and has a specific interest in ophthalmogenetics and developmental genetics. Professor De Baere’s study entitled ‘3D-RET: unlocking 3D genome architecture in human retina, a novel target for intervention’ has won the research budget of 116,000 euros.
About the research
Unlocking the 3D architecture of the genome in the retina is a new target for intervention. Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are a major cause of blindness or visual impairment, affecting two million people throughout the world. IRDs have long been considered incurable, but a number of promising therapeutic interventions are now in the pipeline.
No genetic diagnosis is provided for 50 percent of patients with IRDs, often due to missed subtle or major changes in the ‘dark matter’ of their DNA. Not only the identification but even more the interpretation of these changes is very challenging.
One of the crucial missing layers is the 3D genome architecture of the human retina. The aim of the 3D-RET study is to decipher the 3D genome structure of human retina and investigate the effect of genetic changes in the dark matter of the genome on the 3D architecture in patients’ cells. The aim of the research being conducted by Professor De Baere and her team is to unravel the 3D genome in the retina. This will help to improve diagnosis for patients with IRDs and speed up the identification of novel targets for intervention.
Fund John W. Mouton Pro Retina and Marie-Claire Liénart Fund
The John W. Mouton Pro Retina Fund was set up in 2012 to support scientific research in the field of ophthalmology, with a focus on diseases of the retina. Six research projects have been supported since 2012.
The Marie-Claire Liénaert Fund was set up in 2020 to support scientific research in the field of ophthalmology.
In 2021 the two Funds joined forces to launch a joint call for projects.